Anshun Bridge (Marco Polo Bridge), Chengdu 安顺桥 成都 四川
I returned to Chongqing the weekend of May 26-28 for another IELTS exam weekend. The city hadn’t changed much in the two weeks since I’d last been there. The weather was still warm but not yet hot, and the cloud cover cast a gray pall over the city.
The speaking exams,on Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday, were at SISU, Sichuan International Studies University. Each IELTS speaking exam lasts 11-14 minutes, after which the examiner assigns scores in four catagories. On Sunday, I again ate lunch at Café Liberthé, the French restaurant operated by the Alliance Francaise on campus. This time I had an excellent plate of fried sole, and a large salad.
Sunday evening, I wanted some local Sichuan food, so I returned to a restaurant in the Linjiangmen area I’d been to on my first trip. I had two huge plates of food, with stir-fried meats, Beijing duck-style pancakes, and green beans. Why do I seem to eat so much whenever I’m out of town?
On Monday, we marked the IELTS writing exams at the British Council offices downtown, a short walk from my hotel. I finished early, about 1:30 PM, so I had the entire afternoon free. I walked to Luohan Temple, and wandered around inside the temple buildings for awhile, taking refuge in a covered walkway during a brief rain shower.
Changjiang (Yangtze River), seen from Chaotianmen Square
My stomach was a bit upset, from a combination of too much coffee and a bad Subway sandwich at lunch, so I hung out in the downtown area until I felt better. I had an early dinner at KFC – it’s quite good in Sichuan, since they seem to use local chickens and pay more attention to the recipe than in other parts of China. At 6:12 I caught the express train back to Chengdu.
June will be less busy, since I have no IELTS exams until the end of the month, and my classes will be over by about June 23. Then – more work in the summer months.
Wet night, Jiefangbei district
From the #76 bus stop, a new skyscraper goes up on Dongda Jie in central Chengdu.
Back to school – classes started on Monday. Because I’m teaching in a corporate language training program, I’m starting in mid-August instead of the first of September. With 38 students in each class, it’s a bit awkward teaching Oral English, but since I have each group for 6 periods a week, I hope to sort out a method for having a little individual speaking time with each student at least once a week.
The weather is hot and sticky, and I spend a lot of my time indoors with my new air conditioner – the old one chose to die the day after my return from my 3-week trip to the U.S. In the evening, thunder lights up the distant sky, and sometimes the oppressive humidity condenses itself into a brief rain storm. The other day, between class and lunch, I sat on a bench by the lotus pond near North Gate and meditated. The pink lotus blossoms provided good focal points, and the low-high-low choral buzzing of the cicadas gave me a sense of tranquility.
I’m still mulling over my thoughts from my American sojourn. Was that really just a few weeks ago? I hope to have them down on paper – or on a computer screen – once I’m better able to articulate my feelings about reverse culture shock, and revisiting my home country after an absence of 5 years. As soon as my thought coalesce, you’ll read them here.